Here are over 25 detailed ideas on how to get a little homestead side hustle working for you this year. Tips, advice and possible pitfalls. Plus, a reminder that you don’t HAVE to do it all, if you decide not to!
This article is an excerpt from The Business of Homesteading section of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. This book is a 450 page resource for homesteading wherever you are, with whatever resources are yours right now. The key is to begin today and we can help with information, how-to’s, DIY challenges, recipes and more! To get your copy, simply click below!
Why the Homestead Side Hustle?
It’s no secret to anyone who’s tried it that “living the simple life” ain’t so simple. Downsizing and generally de-cluttering our lives and spaces is a good and noble thing. We even wrote a whole article on how to KonMari on the Homestead!
However, downsizing doesn’t always equal simplifying. Neither does learning to DIY always equate to saving money. The fact is, homesteading costs, just like everything else. It costs money, time and energy. It’s a cost that’s worth the investing, but the bill does come due in various ways.
Are You In?
If you’re going to spend capital, time and energy into living the self-sufficient lifestyle, there’s no rule that says you’re not allowed to make a little money from the venture at the same time. However, it’s not something that you have to do in order to “make it” as a homesteader.
Some homesteaders may choose to never even attempt to make money from the homestead. Still others may start and stop such ventures. Both are perfectly fine; you do whatever you feel lead to do on your land and with your family.
However, if you do feel like you’re being prompted or inspired to at least investigate the possibility of starting a few homestead side hustles, this is the article for you!
Homestead Side Hustles
The following homestead side hustles are broken up into three different types of commodity. There’s also a little practical advice interspersed here and there. As I said, this article is part of a much longer body of text (16 pages worth of information!!) that comes from our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead.
This book is a prime example of our own homestead side hustle. We offer it up as exhibit A to testify that you CAN live your dream, create your passion, share it with others and make a few more pennies for chicken feed. Or seed starts.
You may not choose to write a book – believe me, it’s not for everyone – but you may just find something else you’re keen to try. Let’s go through this together…
3 Homestead Side Hustle Categories
We’ve broken these up into three categories so you can better wrap your brain around them. They are
- Raw Products – These are items you can sell or trade that an animal produces, the ground grows or is essentially created by something other than you.
- Value Added Products – These are items for sale or trade that you create from the raw products that come off your homestead. These require some manipulation on your part, but they are often items you already enjoy making and of which you can produce just a little bit extra without too much hassle. About what are you passionate?
- Services – These suggestions aren’t necessarily for tangible things to market, although there is some of that. These ideas will most likely require an investment of time and energy from you but may serve to build up your brand and authority in a particular area. Just like all of these ideas, they also provide a legitimate and needed service to your community for which you deserve to be compensated.
Raw Product Homestead Side Hustles
Remember, these are items that an animal or the soil produces without much active input from you. These are usually products you already have on hand because of what you already do on the homestead.
Plant Produced Side Hustles
- Heirloom Seeds: Save seeds from your crops every year and market them locally or online. This will be especially useful if you start your own seed saving group. Find a few garden bloggers whose writing and style appeal to you and offer to give them seed in exchange for an honest review.
- Transplants: This will be pretty simple to do if you’re already starting your food crops and herbs from seed. Grow up extras of plants you see people putting in their gardens in your neighborhood, or heirloom varieties you enjoy growing your-self. You can also do this with bedding plants, fancy annuals, and pretty perennials for ornamental gardens.
- Berries and Other Fruits: These items always sell, berries especially. Fruit is easy to market because it’s sweet. Instead of planting three blueberry bushes, plant six and see about selling your surplus. If that’s successful, plant more. Read Stella Otto’s find Backyard Berry book
- Mushrooms: If you’re growing these already for your own use, or you can harvest them ethically with a bit to spare from your land, spread the joy and sell the ‘shrooms. To learn more about growing your own mushrooms read the very reliable Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, by Tradd Cotter. For foods, especially raw milk and mushrooms, it’s perfectly logical to require your customers to sign a liability waiver before they purchase product. Keep these on file in a safe place.
Animal Produced Homestead Side Hustles
First, let’s cover the “baby” stuff:
- Baby Livestock: You can simply sell off your extra chicks, kids, and bees or you can begin your own breeding program. Often surplus males of various species are sold to become dinner later. Several species are inclined to produce multiple offspring in one go. Registered dairy and breeding animals like goats listed with the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) will usually fetch more money than unregistered animals. People can be sure of their pedigrees. Small animals, like rabbits and chickens, usually sell in higher volume.
- Fertile Eggs: If you have a rooster in your flock, sell your fertilized eggs on your local online classifieds. Be sure to test for fertilization rates and decide if you want to ship, which will lower the hatch rate. Even healthy, static clutches rarely hatch out every egg. Be ready to give a rough estimate of hatch rate/fertility to your customers. Try raising a breed that’s rare for your area and see if you can create a niche for it.
If you have the space to keep males, renting out their services as a stud is a simple way to provide a service and make a little side money. You’ll need to keep tabs on your buck’s fertility in your own herd. Decide if you want to offer some kind of money back guarantee.
Be sure to talk to experienced stud managers. You’ll need to develop a program for mitigating pathogens and diseases being introduced to your herd from visiting females. Only you can decide what’s best to do for your boys. However, separate pens for each male and a quarantine time for the ladies may be helpful to you.
A registered sire will probably bring in more money than an unregistered one. I prefer the local market for this, so that date night is in person. But you can educate yourself on selling the semen of your male. You’ll most likely be working with a semen collector, whom you’ll need to pay. You may need some certification/registration to be credible enough for people to work with you. Again, that’s why I prefer local romancing.
Other Animal Produced Homestead Side Hustles
- Fiber: Fiber animals require shearing and their fleece requires skirting and cleaning, so you do a good deal of work to get this product marketed, but the animal does the growing. You can sell raw fiber, too, for a discounted amount—some spinners actually prefer unwashed fleece to wash as they see fit. You can sell clean fiber by the pound and you can also have it turned into roving. If you’re handy with a wheel, you can spin it into yarn of different weights and thicknesses.
- Honey: Honey does require quite a bit of input from you to get it from the hive to the customer. Still, it’s the bees that make it. You extract, filter and bottle. You don’t technically have to create this very, very popular item to sell from your homestead. For quality information for keeping bees for honey, read Backyard Beekeeper, by Kim Flottum.
- Worms: If you’re already vermicomposting then you know that your red wrigglers reproduce well when they’re healthy. Turn that excess into some income. For more information on vermicomposting, please see that section in the Livestock Wherever You Are chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead.
- Compost: Sell your vermicompost and/or your garden compost. If you have animals on your homestead, be sure to include their dung in your compost to make it even more robust. They don’t call compost black gold for nothin’! Consider whether or not you want to bag it or sell it loose. Will the customer need to come pick it up or will you deliver?
Find Your Niche
It’s important to find something that makes your products unique for your market. As one experienced with textiles, Sarah Dalziel (www.wearingwoad.com) suggests that novelty yarns are more cost-effective/time effective as compared to spinning generic worsted weight yarns. She also suggests trying to find a unique marketing angle like naturally dyed yarns, unusual fibers and anything to make it more unique. These special touches will justify charging a sufficient price to compensate you for your time and investment.
To see a photographic encyclopedia of more than 200 animal fleeces and the fibers they can produce, read The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, by Ekarius and Robson. This thing is so gorgeous it will make you want to own every fiber animal on planet earth. To learn the basics of fiber animals, read Janet Garmen’s, The Good Living Guide to Keeping Sheep and Other Fiber Animals:
Value Added Product Homestead Side Hustles
Remember that these are products that will take some effort to process, package and sell. Usually, there will be some sort of regulation to understand and with which you’ll need to work.
Hand-Crafted Value Added Homestead Side Hustles
- Soaps, Lotions, Creams and Other Beauty Products: Women will always be interested in these products. Was that sexist? Men need them, too, of course but ladies like to make an experience of purchasing these items. Find a way to make them as healthy as possible and you’ll probably increase your market, even if you have to increase your cost. So many of us are looking for a way to avoid chemically laden products in our health and beauty regimens. Visit The Nerdy Farm Wife to learn more about homemade soap and other natural care products. Always stay abreast of state and federal laws regarding the sale of any health and beauty products.
- Hand Crafted Fiber Items: Hand knitted, crocheted, felted and woven articles are so lovely and rich. Many people are unwilling to pay what these items are actually worth, but you can find niche markets, especially if your pieces are unique in some way. A great venue to connect with other fiber artists, network and even sell pat-terns and yarns is Ravelry (www.ravelry.com).
- Other Hand-Crafted Items: Wood working, metal crafting, sewing, candle making are all skills that are vital to your personal enrichment on the homestead. They are also useful in generating a bit of income. If you are fortunate enough to be proficient in one or more of these skills, feel grateful for the abundance in your hands.
Livestock-Based Value Added Homestead Side Hustles
- Coops, Brooders and Rabbit Hutches: If you’re clever with a hammer, build a few prototypes and see how they sell. Sometimes when we’re gifted in a particular area, we have a hard time realizing that not everyone is like us. We can downplay the potential market for something, by assuming that no one will want what we have to sell because they can just build their own. Not everyone can “just build a chicken coop”. Someone will very much need what you have to provide. There have been times when I’ve purchased something, I could make myself just because I didn’t have the time to do it. Your local, online classifieds can be a good place to start marketing these types of items.
- Livestock Guard Dogs and Training: Now here’s something I’m actually in the market for right now. I don’t know anything about using an LGD. However, I’m set to learn this year and I’d love to have a market for quality stock. I also need a mentor to help me learn how to properly work my dogs. Herding dogs require a lot more training. If this is a skill you have, people will be willing to pay you to learn! Training other animals can be useful as well, especially horses and any draft animal.
- Feathers and Pelts: If you have guineas or other fowl with pretty plumage, you may take some time to collect the feathers. You’ll need to clean them before you sell them for crafts and jewelry. Remember, that many of these things can be done by children. What a fun side business for your kids! If you already harvest rabbits for meat, it may be a simple thing for you to sell the pelts. There are people out there who use them to make clothing, as well as Boy Scout troops that need to learn to tan a hide. Why throw something away (or neglect it in your to-do pile) if you can sell it?
Assorted Other Value Added Homestead Side Hustles
- Firewood: If you have the trees, and a strong back, especially if you’re already har-vesting it for your own use, firewood can be a simple thing to market. Some of us use wood year-round but, for most people, it’s a seasonal purchase. Firewood, to burn properly, also needs to season for a time. Plan harvesting and marketing schedules with those things in mind. I would consider something this physically demanding to be a short time gig until you have the financial footing to do some-thing less taxing, but that’s just my opinion.
- Baked Goods, Jams and Other Kitchen Delights: If you’re already making up a batch of your grandmother’s recipe for blueberry lemon jelly, why not make a bigger batch and sell the extra? Learn all you can about perceived value when it comes to packaging and presentation. It’s human nature to be drawn in by pretty packaging. That’s not to say you can create shoddy product expecting to hide it in pretty paper and grow a steady and loyal business. However, your hard work deserves to be show-cased as effectively as possible, so do some research. An easy way to conduct a beginner’s study is to go on Pinterest and see what’s visually appealing (that’s what Pinterest is all about). Remember, that apart from state laws, your farmer’s market will also have bylaws that need to be adhered to. Make sure you know what they are ahead of time.
Service-Based Homestead Side Hustles
These are on-going sources of income that can be managed as compactly or as on a grand a scale as your land and laws can support.
Livestock-Based Services Homestead Side Hustles
- Animal Boarding: If you have the barn space, this can be a great project for your older kids. Boarding requires feeding, watering and, depending on the animal, a certain amount of maintenance like brushing and hoof trimming. Be sure to plan for separate housing for visiting animals to protect your own from disease and bacteria. This is particularly relevant with rabbits, as they will catch anything—even human colds and flu.
- Goat Weed Eaters: If you have a herd of dairy goats, consider advertising their services as weed-eaters. For specifics on how you might manage your herd to control brush and weeds, I suggest you visit sites like Goats R Us (www.goatsrus.com) to study their business model. In brief, you need to be prepared with a way to move your goats to and from the site to be cleared. You’re also going to need movable fencing because goats are…well, they’re goats and they wander. Goats can quickly overgraze a site, too, so you’ll need to plan to be close enough to steadily check on their progress through the weeds.
Garden/Growing Service Homestead Side Hustles
- Rent Pasture and Garden Space: The plots can be marked off by you and irrigation provided. Plan to make a requirement that plot-users keep their spaces weeded. There are neighborhoods where the homes really don’t have much space to grow food and others who have HOA’s that prevent much of that. A farmer or homesteader near an urban area can provide this valuable service to their community by providing members a place to grow their own food. This also builds a sense of community overall.
- Weddings and Parties: If you have the tailored space, a lovely barn (or other in-door facility) and some pretty views, this could be something you really enjoy doing. I’d rather walk on my lips than deal with brides (several years in the floral industry killed the romance of weddings for me), but some personalities really, really enjoy this kind of thing. If you have the housing, you could also host family reunions, corporate getaways and more. Again, time for a call to your insurance agent and your lawyer, if this is something you’d like to explore.
Specialty Growing and Tours
These projects will require a lot of building of infrastructure and permits (in some areas) and to-doing. Remember, you will not get rich quickly from the homestead! Everything worthwhile requires work and time.
Tree Farm or Nursery
I remember going to a Christmas tree farm every year to cut down our own tree; it was such a huge part of Christmas! It still is for me today and I’ve toyed with the idea of starting one just for the pure joy. However, it’s A LOT of work, just ask any farmer you know who runs one, and it takes a good deal of time but, oh, what a thing to grow!
By providing a tree farm local to your customers, you help prevent the devastating sight of already harvested trees languishing in tree lots, unwanted on Christmas day. To encourage your customers to return, you might offer a tree chipping service on site. Customers can bring their finished trees to have processed for free.
This would be a bonus in that you would then have wood mulch, which you could use or sell. While they’re there having their trees recycled, perhaps you could offer them a few indoor plants for sale from your greenhouse. Maybe also a coupon to return in a few months for bedding plants and vegetable starts?
Focusing on a one-time sale is fine, but it’s really short sighted. Part of why we do what we do is to build community and life-long partnerships with the people around us. Find a way to get your visitors to return repeatedly and, before you know it, they’ll be loyal customers. Lewis Hill’s Christmas Trees is a quick read for the novice grower to get their feet wet with this venture.
U-Pick farm, Corn Maze or Pumpkin Patch
There’s always risk when you invite someone onto your land, but if you’ve researched that risk and covered yourself with insurance, these enterprises can be really fun. U-picks are season-dependent operations. You advertise based on what seasonal fruit or veggie is available. You need to decide each year the cost of product per pound and/or the price of admission.
Be sure to set firm boundaries between what land is appropriate for customers to populate and what part of your property is off limits. Carefully guard your personal time as well and make it clear that you’re working when you have customers present—you do NOT have the time to chat for three hours with each person.
As a customer of U-Pick places, my biggest advice is to be very specific with price when you market. Be sure your customers know why your product is unique and why they need it. It can be helpful to provide a small sample of what’s on for harvest at any given time.
Teach Local Classes
For some homesteaders, this is their most steady form of side income. Again, don’t downplay the importance of that in which you’re an expert. Many of the homesteading skills have been lost over time and people are scrambling to revive them, truly yearning to know how to do what you already do. Community colleges, agricultural extensions and church congregations are some venues you might explore.
I caution you against repeatedly working for free, but there may be times when you feel strongly about donating your time. I’ve done it before and have been happy to serve, especially in my congregation, but there are absolutely times when it’s appropriate to expect to be compensated in some way or other. Again, never discount the beauty of trade items! Sometimes I’ll host the class for free but charge a fee for any printed material from the class, if people would like to buy it.
This can be a big pain in the butt that provides dividends over time. Utah Natural Meat is a grass-fed meat provider where we used to live in Utah. Farmer Shayne will give tours to any interested party, with a bit of notice. This is a family farm. The farm is run by him, his wife and their four little kids. They do most of the work, so taking time out for a tour is an investment. However, they are committed to helping their community understand the value of humanely raise meat. They strongly feel that a personal education lasts a lifetime.
So, they invite the community onto their farm. They exhibit their greenhouse, heritage pigs, plus cattle, goats, sheep and poultry. Farmer Shayne happily explains their sprouting system that grows all the rations for their livestock. He’ll even introduce you to their awesome draft horses that work the farm.
You can ask questions and get real life experience from an intelligent gentleman farmer and his family. We first learned about sprouting grain for livestock (instead of feeding dry rations) from Farmer Shayne and were able to pick his brain about re-creating the system on a homestead-sized scale.
On my own land, I’ve done homestead tours for
- Weston Price chapters
- homesteading groups
- seed groups
- homeschool groups
- interested friends and neighbors
It can be a lot of work but it’s good to know that you’re having a positive impact on your town.
Sometimes you charge for the tours. Or, the tours are free, and you ask for a donation, or provide a homestead product for them to purchase afterward. Farmer Shayne has his farm store on site which he invites you to visit. We have found that food and water bottles are always big sellers on our homestead tours.
Be sure to check with your insurance company to see what liability coverage you might have, and you may want to have your lawyer draw up a waiver form for every attendant to sign. Here are some more tips on hosting a homestead tour.
Homestead Side Hustle To-Do List
- Read through the lists above again, this time with your homestead journal in hand. Mark down the ideas you hate first—you’re just not going to do them, period.
- Now go back through and scribble notes on the ones that seem feasible or, at least, interesting. Put each idea in the center of its own piece of paper. Start brainstorming absolutely everything associated with that idea, including known legalities or questions about it.
- You’ll start to see connections between the ideas coming out of your head—this is called a mind map.
After a few days, come back and start organizing your thoughts. You need those few days for your brain to mull over what you’ve just come up with.
- Take that time to talk to your spouse or partner or friend or stranger on the bus who’ll listen.
- Spend some personal time meditating or praying over your ideas and slowly. They’ll start to shape up into something that could be awesome.
- Keep that list of ideas you decided you aren’t going to do. Refer back to it every now and then to see if your sentiments have changed. Sometimes the things we think of as our weaknesses end up being our greatest strengths.
More Homestead Side Hustle Information
More information on these homestead side hustle preparations can be found in our book in The Homestead Finances chapter. This information includes preparing for your local farmer’s market, establishing a presence on social media and more!
Say No to Homestead Side Hustles!
Please note that you aren’t obligated to ever sell or trade a single thing from your homestead. It’s not a level of achievement that you must reach in order to have “made it”.
Many homesteaders are quite busy and content with providing for the needs of their family. Some homesteaders prefer not to mess with the headache of figuring out cottage laws and city codes. They’d rather just use their handmade creations as Christmas gifts and birthday treats.
That is a lovely, quiet way to live. You shouldn’t feel compelled to do anything differently, if you don’t want to.
Your homestead, your choice.
Cover graphic is gratefully attributed to this Pexels user.